Oct 272020


(In this post DGR begins a sequence of seven reviews, which we will do our best to post on seven consecutive days, catching up with albums from earlier in the year that we didn’t fully cover. And to begin we have Black Crown Initiate‘s latest album, released in August by Century Media.)

We’re nearing the end of the year, which means you’ve inevitably seen the occasional author musing to themselves about starting to work on their year-end lists. In fact, I’ve already seen a couple of prospective ones myself, which isn’t weird at all considering it’s still March. But there’s always been something of a compulsion of mine where I feel like if I don’t cover everything I’ve listened to this year then I’m short-changing the bands, even if a disc may have hit way early on in the year, and as far as the internet is concerned may as well have been released in the Cretaceous period.

In some cases it’s fine because that means that there can be some half-hearted attempts at brevity in these write-ups, but man if it doesn’t feel a bit like panicking right before the end of the year, especially while keeping in mind there’s still a few handfuls of releases still heading towards us in the October/November months. I generally try to avoid bringing a personal “I” into the mix when writing for that reason, because honestly, few care about the personal adventures of some dork with a laptop on the west coast; in that way, I try to keep things focused on how the album may play out to the listener while keeping my own adventures fairly light throughout.

It doesn’t really work that way when you write like this though. Instead, it becomes incredibly personal due to just how candid the reviews wind up feeling. Imagine laying your arm across a desk and just sweeping everything off it and you’ll have a mental image of what doing one of these collections can feel like. It’s reckless as hell and shit goes flying everywhere, but wow, look at how clear that desk is now. It is surprisingly freeing.

Thus we make a run at clearing out much of the backlog, some releases I’m surprised haven’t gotten more coverage around here and others matters of curiosity. A few of these are later discoveries and others I’d guess fall squarely into the DGR corner of the NCS virtual office and nowhere else. It’s like a weight is being lifted off my shoulders already.

So long as we ignore the blank ‘potential year-ender list’ file that is currently parked dead center on my desktop. Continue reading »

Jun 082020


If you’re seeing this before seeing the first two Parts of the round-up, I hope you’ll check out Part 1 and Part 2. After a lot of singing in Part 2, we’re moving back into music that’s more in line with the site’s name.


The kaleidoscopic opening track in this collection moves from mystical and mesmerizing sounds into the embrace of humming low tones and head-hooking beats (and singing), and from there into a grim, ravaging, bullet-spitting attack, augmented by doses of vocal ferocity (as well as flaring melody and soaring song). Skittering, darting, and delirious fretwork and blaring chords propel the song to fiery heights, and the singing becomes spine-tingling. A welcome return from these talented dudes…. Continue reading »

Mar 142020


Yesterday was crazy. And no, I’m not talking about the latest coronavirus developments (though those were depressingly crazy too). I’m talking about the ridiculous flood of new songs and videos that were discharged into the electronic ether. Nowadays there are always a lot of new releases on Fridays, but yesterday was a Friday the 13th, and that always triggers a rabid Pavlovian response among bands and labels.

Rather than try to winnow down everything I thought was appealing into a five-or-six song SEEN AND HEARD column, which would have over-stressed my feeble brain, I decided to throw up my hands and resort to the Overflowing Streams format — just shove all these new songs and videos at you with only brief commentary by me.

The thing is, there’s SO DAMNED MUCH STUFF HERE, particularly because I also included a few things that surfaced in the few days preceding Friday the 13th, that I decided to cut it into two parts to make it a little more digestible. Everything is arranged in alphabetical order by band name. If I don’t get the second half ready to go today, you’ll find it here tomorrow along with our usual SHADES OF BLACK column.


I was inclined to include this first video simply so I would have an excuse to put Eliran Kantor’s cover art at the top of this page, but wound up digging the song too. Continue reading »

Jul 222016



(Andy Synn reviews the new album by Black Crown Initiate from Reading, PA.)

Black Crown Initiate have been something of a favourite of mine (and, if I’m not speaking out of turn here, the majority of the NCS crew in general) for quite some time now and, as such, Selves We Cannot Forgive (released today on eOne), has been sat at the top of my “most anticipated” list for 2016 ever since it was first confirmed.

Thanks to my moonlighting for Terrorizer I’ve been lucky enough to have access to the album for quite a while now, which has allowed me the opportunity to really dig deep into its many layers, as the Pennsylvanian quintet have clearly gone to great lengths to push themselves and their music down an ever-proggier path on their second album.

But… and it’s a surprisingly big but (and I cannot lie)… despite all of its impressively progressive inclinations and some undeniably heroic highlights, it’s hard not to view Selves We Cannot Forgive as the band taking one step backwards for every move forwards they make. Continue reading »

Jun 172016

Mr. Trash Wheel-Baltimore


(DGR takes over round-up duties today, featuring commentary and a wide array of recent song, video, and album streams. This would have been posted much earlier in the week if our editor weren’t so lame.)

If you’ve been reading the site recently you’ve no doubt noticed that quite a few of us shirked work and decided instead to go out to Maryland for the Maryland Deathfest shindig that the internet likes to talk so much about. However, the internet doesn’t take time off like we do and quite a bit of stuff came out during that period that despite our best efforts slipped right by us.

On top of that, since we’ve been playing catch-up for the last two weeks, a veritable pile of new music landed on top of us as well. And so I find myself opening my great maw wide in order to capture as much of it as possible — as well as using this as an opportunity to share some stuff that flew right past us long before we had MDF as an excuse for being terrible people.

Contained in this here news roundup is a veritable smorgasboard of new music, some of which came to us by the bands themselves and other times was discovered whilst I was spinning in circles on the internet. Either way, there’s a ton of stuff what floated down the river here — only to be captured by my net/boat/if only there was some sort of metaphor or object I could compare my news capturing ability to… ah well, maybe next time. Let’s get on with it. Continue reading »

Mar 082016

Katatonia 2016


If you recall yesterday’s “Seen and Heard” round-up, I explained that I had fallen so far behind that I had a list of 30 new tracks from over the last week that I thought were worth exploring. And sure enough, the list has only grown, because so many other good new things popped up in the last 24 hours. So I’m starting with the four newest items and concluding with four from last week.


Yesterday brought details about the next Katatonia album, as well as a very brief teaser video. This will be their tenth studio full-length, with the title of The Fall of Hearts. It’s set for a May 20 release by Peaceville Records. Here’s the artwork (by Travis Smith, of course): Continue reading »

Mar 312015


This year’s edition of the METAL ALLIANCE TOUR features an eye-catching line-up: Deicide, Entombed A.D., Hate Eternal, Black Crown Initiate, and Svart Crown. And earlier today Deicide leaked the initial round of dates on their Facebook page (and thank you Vonlughlio for tipping us to this news). As Deicide wrote when they posted the schedule, “it’s still being booked so don’t get your freak on cause ya don’t see your town, more to come!”

I’ll pretend I’m interested in what other cities will be visited, though the truth is that since Seattle is already on the list I can now tune out any further announcements.

Here’s the first round of dates and places on the schedule: Continue reading »

Dec 272014


Welcome to Part 4 of our list of 2014′s Most Infectious Extreme Metal Songs. For more details about what this list is all about and how it was compiled, read the introductory post via this link. For the other songs we’ve previously named to the list, go here. Today we add two more songs, from two rising stars in the firmament of metal, both of whom match technically impressive instrumental skill with songwriting prowess.


At the moment, I can’t remember a current band whose fortunes have risen so far, so fast, as Black Crown Initiate from Reading, PA. On the strength of one four-song EP — Song of the Crippled Bull (glowingly reviewed here by TheMadIsraeli) — they landed on a slew of high-profile, kickass tours, the first of which was headlined by Behemoth (I reviewed the Seattle stop of that mega-tour here). That EP also landed them a spot on the roster of eOne Music, which released the band’s debut album this year — The Wreckage of Stars.

The album proved beyond doubt that Song of the Crippled Bull was no fluke. As DGR wrote in our review of the album: Continue reading »

Nov 052014

In today’s posts we’ve thrown quite a lot of new music your way, but we’re still not quite done. There are a couple more songs I want to recommend that I discovered over the last 24 hours, plus some news items that perked my interest. We’ll start with those and then move to the songs.


Through Space and Grind is the name of a 2015 North American tour whose roster is full of eye-catching names: Napalm Death, Voivod, Exhumed, Iron Reagan, and Black Crown Initiate. The tour begins on January 27 in Miami and runs through February 28 in Houston.

The following bands will also join the tour on selected dates:  Ringworm, Dayglo Abortions, Theories, and Phobia. Here’s the full schedule: Continue reading »

Sep 292014


(DGR wrote this review of the debut album by Black Crown Initiate from Pennsylvania, which will be released tomorrow — Sept 30.)

It feels like music moves in ten-plus-year generational cycles, especially when it comes to heavy metal. This seems stupidly obvious, but the fact that it still continues unabated is pretty spectacular — because it allows people to sit around and prognosticate like true intelligentsia when it comes to even the most banal of subjects. You’ll have discs that come out right about the time a new generation can pick up on it and have their minds blown. In turn, they draw heavy influence from that specific time frame, and when it becomes their own turn to take the stage, it’s like watching the previous cycle re-incarnate, combined with some of the current sounds that are popular. And so, the sound iterates, especially in the case of heavy metal, as things move incrementally in different directions.

The past few years. especially, have really put the various spectra of death metal into the spotlight as both tech-death and progressive death have seen numerous new entries from young bands, groups who over the past decade have taken in so much of what began in the early aughts and now seek to put their own mark on it. Reading, Pennsylvania’s own Black Crown Initiate are one of those bands who have seemingly had the stars align for them. They are a young band who succeeded in finding the almost perfect combination of songwriting talent, musicianship, and artistic bravery to stretch well beyond their own genre conventions and managed to make quite the loud entrance with last year’s EP Song Of The Crippled Bull. You could tell, especially by our own review, that if Song Of The Crippled Bull was anything to go by, Black Crown Initiate were going to have a lot of heat behind them.

And so, we find ourselves looking to the band’s label debut, The Wreckage Of Stars, and if you haven’t quite figured out where this introduction is heading yet, let’s summarize it for you: There is a reason you’ve probably been hearing a lot about Black Crown Initiate over the past year, and if Wreckage Of Stars is anything to go by, you’re going to be hearing a hell of a lot more of them in the years to come. Continue reading »